While attention on the policing system and reimagined visions of public safety are necessary endeavors, Black liberation requires that we examine the larger systems that require and benefit from police violence.
By Patrisse Cullors and Mike de la Rocha There was a lot of conversation happening about Trump’s endorsement of The FIRST STEP Act (H.R. 5682) prior to the bill being signed into law. Many progressive supporters of the Act were surprised that Trump would endorse political policy that they thought would ultimately get thousands of people out of prison. A closer look reveals the truth: The FIRST STEP Act is a flawed and extremely harmful law that was framed as a step forward for criminal justice reform, but in reality it’s a misguided attack on the movement to end mass incarceration. Our concerns with The FIRST STEP Act are based upon three fundamental premises: The belief in the humanity of every person impacted by the justice system; The belief that the Act does not go far enough in addressing the systemic issues that are the driving factors of mass incarceration,…
By Bill Ayers
On April 26 and 27 we joined thousands of people from around the country and around the world at the Peace and Justice Opening in Montgomery, Alabama. Days were filled with formal and informal gatherings, reunions and new connections, the Peace and Justice Summit featuring many powerful thinkers including Elizabeth Alexander, Jelani Cobb, Ava Duverany, and Michelle Alexander, and on the last night, the Concert for Peace and Justice. The focus of the gathering was the unveiling of two breathtaking new sites: the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, and the Legacy Museum, both projects of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI).
Gaspar Sánchez and Veronica Morris-Moore are young organizers from Honduras and Chicago, respectively. Gaspar is a leader of the Civil Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) and a Lenca indigenous LGBT activist. He was mentored by the late Berta Cáceres, the COPINH co-founder who was assassinated on March 2, 2016. Veronica has been on the front lines of youth struggles in the era of Black Lives Matter, from winning a trauma center to helping oust the state’s attorney who played a role in covering up the Chicago police murder of Laquan McDonald.
I was introduced to Zolo Azania some twenty years ago through his artwork – striking portraits of Harriet Tubman, Malcom X and Emmet Till, artwork that reflected Zolo’s deep commitment to the Black freedom struggle – exhibited at the Autonomous Zone, a storefront operated by a small group of socially conscious anarchists in Chicago. I met Zolo shortly thereafter when a friend of mine, Elizabeth (Betty) Benson, a longtime activist then in her 80’s, asked me if I’d like to accompany her on a visit to death row at the Indiana state prison in Michigan City. Betty had already been visiting Zolo for several years, taking the South Shore Line from Chicago to Michigan City and then completing the mile or so journey to the prison on foot. On that first visit, I was struck by Zolo’s extraordinary resilience. Sitting across from me was a man with a quick smile and undying optimism, unbroken after fifteen years on death row. How did he manage that?
By Monica Cosby
This past Saturday, the day before Mother’s Day, Moms United Against Violence and Incarceration, hosted an Incarcerated Mom’s Day Vigil and Toiletry Drive outside Cook County Jail. We’ve been doing this for 3 years running. As an organizer with Moms United who was formerly incarcerated, I know how necessary this is. Moms of all kinds, who are struggling to survive on the inside, need hope. And their families need help too. We live in a world that does too little to support incarcerated moms and women, yet criminalizes their survival. We don’t have enough support before, during and after release from prison.
By Thenjiwe McHarris, Movement for Black Lives
Contributing Editor’s Note by Dara Cooper
On April 4, the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, the Movement for Black Lives [M4BL] launched Beyond the Moment: United Movements from April 4th to May Day, a campaign “to strengthen the fight for justice, freedom and the right to live fully, with dignity and respect for all people.” M4BL engaged a broad based, multi-cultural, multi-sector coalition known as “The Majority” to kick off a series of actions, teach-ins and events inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech between April 4 and May Day.
In his speech, Dr. King named racism, capitalism and militarism as the greatest harms challenging people to commit to the “fierce urgency of now.” As tens of thousands of protesters converged in Washington D.C. for the People’s Climate March to stand up against reactionary assaults on environmental justice by the current U.S. administration, Dr. King’s warning is more urgent now than ever. Because of the highly racialized effects of climate change, communities of color are the most devastated by our current climate conditions.